It did not come out of nothing. After a steady way up the result lists through the past years, Norway´s Maren Lundby truly reached the top in the 2017/18 season. The 23-year old finished on the podium in every competition of the season, won nine out of 15 individual competitions of the season and took the gold medal at the Olympics in PyeongChang.
Lundby making history
After Sarah Hendrickson, Sara Takanashi and Daniela Iraschko-Stolz, Lundby is only the fourth lady to win the big crystal globe as the World Cup overall champion. Already the first competition of the season in Lillehammer brought a forecast on how dominant Maren Lundby would be, winning with more than nine points ahead of Katharina Althaus and Carina Vogt. Two defeats against Althaus in the following competitions and the second place at the Lillehammer triple where promising a thrilling fight over the winter.
Close to unbeatable
But from that point on Lundby remained close to unbeatable almost till the very end of the season. Six consecutive victories in Hinterzarten, Sapporo, Zao and Ljubno turned Lundby into the strongest favourite for the PyeongChang Olympics. Apart of her athletic improvements, Lundby also showed impressive mental strength. After missing out on victories in the past especially in the final round, this time Lundby usually even expanded her leads in the second jumps. The most impressive victory came in Zao (JPN), more than 41 points ahead of Austria´s Chiara Hoelzl. The outstanding athlete of the past years, Sara Takanashi, could not quite hang on to her performances of the last seasons. After six podiums it took the Japanese till the final stage of the World Cup to take her first victories of the season.
Takanashi with strong finish
Her impressive performances at the World Cup final in Oberstdorf with her victories 54 and 55 might have been a forecast to the next season though. Another lady performed the best season of her career: Germany´s Katharina Althaus. 10 podiums, 3 victories, silver medal in PyeongChang – the 21-year old is a real promise for the future. Daniela Iraschko-Stolz on the other hand will be 35 when the new season starts. Nevertheless, she will remain a competitor for the podium. After an impressive comeback after almost a year of injuries with places 4 and 1 in Ljubno, the Austrian finished on the podium in the last three competitions of the season, even beating Lundby twice in Oberstdorf.
Germany just ahead of Japan
In the Nations Cup, Germany took the win, only five points ahead of Japan. While the points of all competing athletes go into the Nations Cup, the actual team competitions brought clear wins for the Japanese. Both in Hinterzarten and Zao Sara Takanashi, Yuki Ito and their teammates where way too strong for the rest of the world.
Strong competitors waiting
As for the next season: Even though it is way too early for a serious preview, it is not too hard to tell that the number of athletes fighting for victories and podiums will grow. Slovenia with Ema Klinec and Nika Kriznar, Austria with Chiara Hoelzl and Jaqueline Seifriedsberger, Russia´s Irina Avvakumova, the young Norwegians Anna Odine Stroem and Silje Opseth, the Malsiner-sisters of Italy, Germany´s Svenja Wuerth, who will come back after her ACL rupture, the surprisingly strong Chinese girls – the list of highly competitive ladies is getting longer and longer.